2019 Vanitas, Civic Museum of Piero della Francesca, Sansepolcro (Tuscany)
White lacquered wood, cardboard, earth, dust, acrylic
550 x 220 x 85 h cm
Vanitas, the installation created by Paolo Cavinato for the Civic Museum in Sansepolcro, is a kind of mirror image, an ideal form of crystal, or a prismatic element, reflected in itself. The artwork consists of two symmetrical parts: the first, made of perishable and precarious material, the other unalterable, aseptic.
The dimension is metaphysical, the objects are placed on an imaginary line, a sort of threshold with a temporal relation.
We remember the term "vanitas", in many examples of the art history, from medieval paintings to the late Renaissance, in the themes of still life with elements alluding to the transience of life. The term derives from the sentence "vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas" (vanity of vanities, everything is vanity) that underlines the ephemeral and precarious condition of existence.
The prismatic shape of the installation is studied and created on the equilateral triangle, fundamental matrix of the compositional structure of the Resurrectionby Piero della Francesca, where the Christ is the apex of an imaginary triangle, which goes from the base of the sarcophagus to its halo , suggested by the poses of the sleeping soldiers. Extreme rigor of the perspective research, plastic monumentality of the figures, expressive function of light, solemnity and severity, Christ has eyes fixed in the void, responds to a different perspective from that of the group of four seated soldiers, below in the foreground. Geometry, mathematics, abstraction.
In Vanitas, the experience of going beyond that axis of symmetry is offered to the visitor, who in this sense becomes an actor and key for the very functioning of the staging of the work. It is in this passage that symmetry reveals a displacement between the two halves: one, expression of the values of integrity, purity, immutability, eternity, certainty (the white prisms, shining, perfect); the other, a trace of the becoming, of the transformation, of the inexorable dissolution (the same objects worn out, graying, misted, subjected to the incurie of time). The threshold, the limit between these two realities thus becomes an experience of the double and the imperfect reflection of the world, of ideas; but also an experience of the ambiguity between precariousness and the idea of infinity and of the ambivalence inherent in the thought of man and in his existence.